The worn cover of Carole Kings 1971 Grammy Award album “Tapestry”


So, a while back a friend said she could finally afford to buy that bohemian coat she wanted.  The use of the word “bohemian” spurred memories. I’ve considered myself a bohemian ever since my aunt gave me a turquoise & silver ring when I was seven.  My aunt lived the bohemian lifestyle and getting that ring from her, in my simple-kid mind, meant I was in the club. My contributions to the movement were growing out my long straight black hair, wearing a bandana when I mowed the lawn and, as often as possible, sit on our couch in an incorrect manner.  

Circle of pipe vibe

Before the pale blues and mauves of the ’80s made their appearance into my childhood, I was surrounded by beatnik leftovers from my parent’s first home; my mother’s early ’60s style contrasted with her sister’s  ’70s experience melting together into a sweet avocado green.  Of course, I had no idea what either of those lifestyles was about! Our living room was crowned by a 3-foot round metal, astrological chart wheel hanging above a black and white leopard print flop couch, adjacent to a row of mahogany stained bookshelves and dad’s tobacco pipe cady. In my room, Barbie was living clean in her shoebox and lego “Dream House”.  Literature in the home included encyclopedias, LIFE Book collections, sci-fi books and poetry by Kahlil Gibran.  Music was predominately 60’s jazz albums, Bill Cosby, Helen Reddy, and Carole King.

But it wasn’t my stuff, it was the life and home that my parents built for us.  It was warm and happy.  As an adult, how do I recreate a modern art of living? Somewhere along the way, I lost it.  I need to get out of survival mode and find my faux-bohemian again.

Get Small
For $110 you can own this view, hang it on any wall, “Mount Corcoran”, by Albert Bierstadt

Turn those dreams of the high retired life down a couple notches.  First, be honest with yourself.  Instead of a dream retirement cabin on the lake, you can be just as happy in a studio apartment that’s 30-minutes away from a lake.   Just visit the lake.  You don’t need the whole lake. This isn’t the 50’s.  No lake for you.

The west coast of Washington and Oregon offer a high quality of life, clean air, water including water in the shape of lakes that we can all visit.  In WA we have all four seasons, mild winters, besides the scratchy track of volcanoes down the middle of the Cascades, we’re doing alright…except for the cost of living.  According to the site the cost of living in Washington is higher than the national average.  They report,

“Our cost of living indices are based on a US average of 100. An amount below 100 means Washington is cheaper than the US average. A cost of living index above 100 means Washington, Washington is more expensive.  Washington’s cost of living is 118.7.  Housing is the biggest factor in the cost of living difference.  The median home price in Washington is $381,300.”

D.I.Y. Life

How do you add quality to your life on a tight budget?  Of course, defining “quality” is person-specific.  In this economy, in this city, I am trying to live a good life but I feel like most efforts bring me down, and I am starting to take it personally. This American Life has it out for me.  I pissed it off somewhere along the line and it’s not giving me anything, no living income, no happily ever after, no satisfaction except in a sunrise, no joy but in my neighbors blooming trees, no love but when that orange cat comes by and rubs its cheek against my doorway, no peace but the ocean that tells me it’s always there—it goes out, but it will come back, it always comes back.  No glory but a rainbow around the moon and my childhood friend the Big Dipper and Orion chasing each other in the sky. The world is a big and resourceful place if you are a tiny red ant working with a million other clones.  It’s all about perspective.

photo credit




“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than 
walking alone in the light.”
-Helen Keller

Girlfriends are important. Might be old news to you, but it’s new to me. Acquaintances worked just fine for many years, or so I thought. My home and work life kept me distracted from having close friends. Woman, especially moms, do this to themselves, too often. Perhaps it’s because as modern woman we are encouraged to be independent, strong, and sometimes that’s interpreted to… BE ALONE.

 It’s no wonder how some of us wake up one morning with a big chip on our shoulder. Well, guess what girlfriend, you did that to yourself, because you always think you have to do everything BY yourself. Life is a burden and joy that should be shared. This is what I’m learning.

My Grandma Mimi shared one of her favorite “girlfriend stories” that happened during her 50 year career as a Registered Nurse. From 1966 to 1970 Grandma was looking for adventure. She applied to work at a remote family care facility outside of Anchorage, Alaska. The patients were mostly Native Eskimo, Yupik or Inuit woman and their children, plus various locals who worked in the nearby towns. Although located in the “wild frontier” the rules at the clinic were anything but wild, especially for the woman. All the nurses, candy strippers to RN’s, were housed in a dorm-like wing of the hospital. It felt more like a prison that home.

At the end of day, these young ladies wanted to get out and go have fun in town.  However, the stern Head Nurse forbid the nurses from drinking in public, dancing, and held them to an early curfew. Nurses back then had an image to uphold.  If nurses broke the rules they could be seriously reprimanded and even fired, their professional and personal reputation stained for life!

These 10-15 ladies in Mimi’s dorm, all strangers, brought together for work decided to make the most of their situation. Some quietly gathered up cigarettes, cards, liquor, one figured out the perfect volume level for the phonograph.

 At the end of a long day, after curfew, and once the Head Nurse had left the building, they’d all crawl out of bed; sit on the floor, room lit only by a few flashlights, played cards, smoked and listen to music!  They never got caught.  They were working girls, and friends.

Girlfriends are important to have in the best and worst of times. Having a card party on the floor may not of been the adventure Grandma was looking for when she went to Alaska, but the friendships she made during those years lasted long into her life.  The memories of those times, good times with good friends, I’m sure carried her through the many trails in the years to come.

Girlfriends rule!